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My Mother Didn't become beautiful*

Reza Farmand

 

Acknowledgement:
 I would like to thank

Marlene R. Edelstein

for editing this translation.

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A short film based on

 My Mohter didn'nt Become Beautiful

By: The Translation Project

 

 

To Suri Tabrizi (1931-1990)

Tanslated from Persian

Instead of preface:

 

Poetry

Is my mother

With her dead hands;

And her expressionless eyes

Fettered and chained to the kitchen

Constant wanderer, in the queues for milk,  
Bread, and as the constant prison visitor. 

 

----------------------------

My mother didnít become beautiful

 

1

My mother couldnít open

The shutter of her life

Into love;

She didnít own her beauty.

 

2

My mother

Couldnít decide not to become pregnant,

Or give her womb

                             In secret

To a dog to eat.

 

3

My mother

Couldnít choose not to be a woman,

To resign from motherhood;

Or not to be agitated

In the long queue outside the prison.

 

4

My mother

Couldnít pick the large pearl

Of her pride

From the open casket of history.

   

5

My mother couldnít stare at

The Word-Diamondís numerous facets 

And sling a lasso at

The battlements of the

Castle of the world.

 

6

My mother wasnít allowed

To soar

And breathe the Wordís boundless air

 

In her life

Soup was repeated

Tea was repeated

And the bubbling of Persian broth.

 

7

My mother

Couldnít rest during the day,

Or turn on

The light of Word at night

And hide her anguish

In festive rejoicing.

 

In dreadful nights

Alas!

She didnít know

The way of wine.

 

8

My mother

Couldnít sell us

Her labour as our cook

                 A few times

And save her earnings

To buy a gift

For whomever she chose

 

9

My mother

Couldnít wash off

The thick layer of othersí ignorance

As she washed off

The hard-burned food

From the bottom of a cooking pot

With steel wool and detergent.

 

10

My mother

Couldnít cast a spell

And fly away

One day

              At dawn

From the kitchen window

 

11

Coming from the mosque,

My father

Met my mother.

 

His words were covered

With thick dust.

 

12

With the belt of holy verses

And with the straps of

Religious traditions

My father

Hitched my mother

                                   Tightly

To the wagon of his life.

 

13

That mirror which is said to be holy

That mirror which is said to be

The clearest of all mirrors

I mean the mirror of the Koran.

How come it doesnít reflect

My motherís bright face!

 

14

My fatherís faith

Was stronger than

My motherís wise and sensible thought

He therefore never bought a

Single word from her

He wouldnít even weigh her words

 

15

My mother

Didnít succeed in

Entering my fatherís mind

That old deserted fortress

And sweeping it free of

The fragments of holy tales

Like the four corners of the kitchen.

 

16

After being introduced to

Holy verses and traditions

My mother

Fearful of her beauty

Veiled her voice

Veiled her look

And adjusted her smile to

Hundreds of religious instructions.

 

17

Intoxicated by her emancipation

She couldnít dance

On the top of the century

 

She didnít get the chance

To show around

The diamond of her intellect,

On the tray of Word

And by the touchstone of experience

Put to shame

Her foolish brawling opponents.

 

My mother

Wasnít permitted to enjoy

The glory of freedom

And see her beauty

Reflected

In the desiring eyes of her admirers

 

She wasnít permitted to fly

With the wings of knowledge

From the depth of dusty beliefs

To the supreme heights of exploration.

 

She didnít get the chance

To explore the world;

To feel existence;

And to have faith in

Her own precious perceptions.

 

She didnít get the chance to

Read in Word

That SHE herself

Is holiest.

 

She didnít get the chance

To sift all claims

With the sieve of Word

And wear a necklace of pride,

A string of radiant jewels 

Of knowledge.

 

18

My mother

Was born to endless walls

She had no prospect of liberating herself from

 

The timeís wild horse

Dragged her violently

                                   By the hair

Around lifeís thorny field.

 

No one heard her voice!

No one saw her eyes!

And her face

Was worn down to death.

 

19

See! What did become of her!

Not even a stone cast a glance at her.

And among so many words in life

She couldnít even

                             For a moment

Stand proudly on the platform of

                        ďIĒ

See! What did become of her!

She didnít get used to mirror

She didnít get an opportunity to

Ponder on stars

And to overtake death

By Wordís speed.

 

20

My mother

Wasnít at ease with *Rial;

She didnít know its metallic language

Rial was a terrifying owl

That would seize

                             Suddenly

Her wordsíchicks

 

*Persian monetary unit.

 

21

My mother enjoyed freedom up to

The last Rial of the allowance

Of the home:

She could crumble

The hundred *Tuman bill

In her small hand-knitted purse

And shop wherever she wanted.

 

*A monetary unit of Iran

(Equal to ten Rials)

 

22

Once

At the time of tasting soup

She couldnít find her mouth

Spoon in the hand,

                               Confused

She approached the mirror

And realised that

Her face had been distorted

By a sudden storm of anxiety

Then, perplexed

She sat in a corner of the kitchen.

 

From then on

She would make a whistling sound

Instead of talking.

 

23

Now

She resembles a crushed ďNOĒ

And a corpse

Under the debris of

Unfulfilled aspirations.

 

24

Granny

Had become childlike

She had lost her sense of words;

She doubted even

Water and mirror.

 

Now,

I hear them all saying

Mummy has become childlike!

 

25

Memory has

                    Now

Stretched out

Towards my mother

Its long shade-like hands.

 

26

That kind creature

In our kitchen whom

We called mother

And felt her existence

Only at times of

Hunger and illness

Is now

Worn out and disappointed

Leaving her life-long companions:

The cooking utensils,

The samovar and the broom.

   

27

The black bomb of death

Struck our home

                           Unexpectedly

And buried my mother

Under the debris of silence

 

Now

A big hole

Has been made

In the heart of my Word.

 

28

Withered and died my mother

Withered and died!

OhÖ

Take my memory from me

For a moment!

 

For a moment!

Make

          Death

                     Beautiful.

 

   

29

Like a teardrop

She disappeared

In the black ink of death.

 

30

The rope of Word

AlasÖ!

Does not reach to the bottom of

The well of death:

 

After the sudden fall of my sick mother

I descended in it

                           Link

                                  By

                                        Link

Down to the last word

And then

I was forced to come up again

To the surface of the moment.

 

I have lost my confidence in life

Death is a reality.

 

31

That mothers dieÖ!

That death is a realityÖ!

 

32

Bitter news

Cannot be removed

Like a splinter

From the eye

Or be vomited up

Like poisoned food

 

Bitter news

Cannot even be wept away

Like the pain of a wound.

 

Bitter news

Blends into your silence

Blends into your smile

Blends into your words

 

My words

Become hollow and dark blue

Because of the death of my mother

Hollow and dark blue.

 

33

My mother

Has passed away

In NOW

She doesnít walk any more

In NOW

She is not even in the kitchen

 

I didnít know that

The surface of the moment

Was so frail

I didnít know!

 

34

Your silence

Would lower me

        Down 

         To

        Death

Its weight would grow

A hundred times heavier

What shall your death

Do to me!

 

35

How are you in death mother?

I think there too

You are anxious about

Your cooking

And wondering

Where in death

You could spread the tablecloth

And how

And from which shutter

You could call out:

The meal is ready!

 

36

We never noticed our mother

We were used to her

Like our old carpet.

 

37

My mother

Was a simple design

On the background of silence.

 

38

My mother

Couldnít succeed in

Making official

Her right to talk, to laugh

She didnít succeed in registering

Her presence

In the savage society.

 

39

In the savage society

Her voice was not recognized

Her questions were not recognized

In the savage society

Her great divine right

Was submission.

 

40

My mother

Disappeared into the clock

The hands of fatigue and question

Moved in her

Large round eyes

All day and all night

And the alarm of her sobbing

Which would ring unexpectedly

Was always wound up.

 

41

My mother

Couldnít prevail upon the world

And remove

Her huge heavy veil

From the traditional mind of society.

 

42

I still remember

The way you collected

The hands and feet of your words

Into the tight shell of silence

And turned into a stone.

 

43

I still remember your look

In your silence

I still see the big words

In the adult class book

That you would pick up

With your mindís tired hands

From among the grains of

Rice, beans, lentils,

And from the inner folds of

Table vegetables.

 

44

As with *Nishabur

They ruined everything

In your impressive body

To turn you

Into a sown field.

 

*

A well know city in the province of Khorasan.

The historical Nishabur was levelled to the ground

During the Mongolian invasion of Iran.

 

45

How dreadful that while you lived

There was a rule of ignorance

When ignorant people 

Disregarded you completely.

As they disregarded freedom.

 

How dreadful that while you lived

Ignorant people

Prevented you from observing the world

Through Word,

This largest window of all

 

They despised your intellect

They denounced your questions

And they tainted your beauty with sin

 

How dreadful that while you lived

There was a rule of ignorance!

 

46

On my poetryís shoulder

I shall carry your coffin

From city to city.  

 

Copenhagen, 1991

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Suri Tabrizi (1931-1990)